What is 7-Day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring?
This is a short-term, methodical way of getting a more accurate picture of what your true blood pressure is. This is done by measuring it multiple times a day and tracking the results over a 7-day period. The results are then used to produce an average, which you can use to assess whether you need to take any steps to improve your heart health.
Most people’s blood pressure goes up when visiting their doctor, if it goes up significantly, we call this White Coat Syndrome. This is why the readings during the 7-day period are taken at home (by yourself or someone you feel comfortable with), rather than at the doctor’s office, as it tends to be more accurate (unless you have an irregular heartbeat).
Why Should we do 7-day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring?
I’ve seen many people ignore a one-off high blood pressure reading throughout my career as a GP. Even though it’s tempting to just keep an eye on it rather than act, this is actually very dangerous. Even if your blood pressure is only slightly raised, it could be causing internal damage, increasing your risk of serious conditions like dementia, strokes and heart attacks.
If your blood pressure is even slightly abnormal, I strongly recommend that you take part in the 7-day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring, as it can help indicate if something’s wrong.
It might seem excessive checking your blood pressure for a week, but multiple measurements will allow you to create an average reading. This average reading helps give a more accurate reflection of your health. Your blood pressure can vary throughout the day, (from activity level, stress, illness, or even what you’ve eaten) which the average reading can factor in more effectively than a one time reading.
In fact, national guidelines even recommend GPs get their patients to take multiple blood pressure readings from home in order to diagnose someone with hypertension.
Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring
If you’re not already diagnosed with hypertension and your blood pressure is up when you visit your doctor (between 140/90 mmHg to 179/119 mmHg), the guidelines recommend that your doctor offers you something called Ambulatory Blood Pressure Monitoring. This is where you wear a special machine that keeps inflating and checking your blood pressure as you go about your day. However, if this machine isn’t available, or if it’s too uncomfortable, the GP should offer you 7-day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring.
What blood pressure monitor should I use for 7-day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring?
You should use a blood pressure monitor that’s reliable and on the British and Irish Hypertension Society’s list of approved devices. It shouldn’t be too old either, as this can affect its accuracy. Most manufacturers recommend replacing or recalibrating your machine every 1-2 years. If you can’t get your own blood pressure monitor try speaking to your GP practice as they may be able to lend you one.
If you have an irregular heartbeat (e.g. atrial fibrillation), home readings may still be helpful, however the most accurate readings are likely done with a manual one, this is a way to measure someone’s blood pressure through inflating the cuff by hand (like one your GP or nurse might use).
High blood pressure is a serious condition that shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s responsible for more than half of all strokes and heart attacks. This is why it’s important to not just monitor your blood pressure occasionally, but act if your blood pressure is even just a little abnormal. You can do this by conducting the 7-day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring to get an accurate average of your blood pressure and seek medical attention if it’s outside of a healthy range.
Keep an eye out for our next blog, “An In depth 7-Day Home Blood Pressure Monitoring Guide”, to find out how to measure your blood pressure from home, what your blood pressure average means and what your next steps should be.
Dr. Katie Stephens
Dr Katie has extensive experience working as both an NHS GP for many years as well as in private telehealth. Alongside getting her MBChB (University of Manchester, 2007) and MRCGP (2012), she also completed additional certifications, doing USMLE Steps 1-3 (United States Medical Licensing Examinations) and obtaining her cert ECFMG in 2015, and DRCOG in 2016. Katie’s special interests include Cardiology and medical training.
GMC reference no: 6162998